Appreciative, Unemotional Feedback

Saturday 15 September, 2001

Morning Meditation. It is an excellent way of determining where we are – be silent. If I want to know how peaceful I am then all I need to do is be quiet. It is then that we notice how busy our mind is, and we cannot fail to conclude that if the mind is so active when we try to be quiet, how can we possibly say that we are focused in our work or in our listening?

The day continued with the group appraising Karaj. He was obviously uncomfortable with the prospect of compliments and gratitude coming his way, but he has to deal with that and if he cannot receive what we have to give then he is being incongruent. [Karaj: Your learning point should be to instigate things head on, not wait for someone to raise them.]

We took a break and returned to list the qualities which we see in Karaj. We talked about what he has done for us, how he has helped us and what it means to us. However, it never amounted to much more than a list of qualities on a flip chart. At the end I became very emotional as I tried to say that Karaj is the father and the friend I have always needed. Karaj picked this up and told the group that whilst the feedback so far had been very good, everybody still had something deeper which they wanted to say to him but felt blocked somehow. He was right because for the next 14 hours, that is just about all we did. Everybody took their turn to look Karaj in the eye and talk to him about the contribution he has made to our lives.

At first I was very confused as to how I could communicate what I wanted to say with meaning but without the tears. We had trouble starting and I raised my confusion in an attempt to bring clarity to the issue for me and to get the ball rolling. Karaj challenged me that I was being manipulative in taking the attention away from his appraisal and onto my therapy issues, and making myself the centre of attention. I understood. I tried to tell Karaj what he had done for me by giving me responsibility in Sicily. He didn’t receive my words – somehow I was being incongruent.

For the rest of the day I bided my time [Karaj: Laziness], not really wanting to take my turn at any point because I knew I would get carried away by my emotions again. It was a highly emotional day throughout and a very intense session for me, but as the day went by I did start to realise how I could be passionate without being emotional. Earl started the personal feedback to Karaj by telling him he is a true friend and, over the years, that friendship has grown and lasted because they have talked and argued and never given up on each other. I saw how Earl was able to be straight with Karaj, emotive but not emotional. I saw it but I knew I would find it difficult to do.

I didn’t take my turn until towards the end of the day and at first I was in a rush to get through it [Karaj: More evidence of being lead rather than being a leader]. However once I had calmed down it was a really enjoyable experience. I had myself completely under control and there was not even a hint of tears; the thought never crossed my mind and the emotions never entered my body. I was straight, congruent and Karaj received what I gave him, saying that he was overwhelmed by what I had said.

I talked of my very first men’s group when, during a break, Karaj turned to me and said in a very quiet voice, ‘We’ll sort you out’. Although I had no idea how, I knew there and then that he would, and since that day he has shown complete commitment to helping me to sort myself out. He has empowered me to help myself. He has stood by and watched me make mistakes, never once rubbing my nose in anything, but always picking me up afterwards. With the physical work we have done he has re-awakened the skills I learnt as an engineering apprentice. He has encouraged me in everything I do and has allowed me the freedom to learn for myself whilst always providing the safety net of unwavering support. He has played the parental role better than anyone and he has brought me to the point where I can begin to parent myself. All this time he has also provided an invaluable friendship. I finished by telling him that I not leaving his company. I’m staying here. He was pleased to hear that.

During the course of the day I realised that we are doing the best we possible can to heal ourselves and to heal others. This house is our playground and we need to relax and enjoy the experience. I need to stop taking things so seriously. Arun was also there to present us with our Sicily certificates, and to give feedback to Karaj. She also addressed the group and told us how much further we had come since the last time she was with us.

Karaj said to me that Ishwar is a destiny setter because he creates his own future, whereas I tend to dwell on and in the past. He told me that reporters dealt with the past and asked me whether I want to be a reporter or a destiny setter.


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